An island dominated by the wind, bewitches with its spontaneous vegetation, pastel colors, genuine flavors… and a thousand anecdotes told by bold storytellers.
“As soon as you arrive in Salina, go and speak to Santino!” This is the recommendation of Barbara Vergnano, a Milanese gallery owner who has been a regular on the island for over twenty years. We trust her. Santino Ruggera is the owner of A Cannata, a family-run hotel restaurant on the Lingua waterfront. He is kind and affable and loves to tell us interesting anecdotes, so he immediately becomes our storyteller.
A real connoisseur of his land, he is an attentive observer of the people who live there or come to visit, remaining enchanted. His hospitality strikes us. It is known that the people of the South are open and accessible, but the surprise of having their car available for a whole week catches us unprepared.
“The inhabitants of Salina have always distinguished themselves among the Aeolian peoples for their entrepreneurship”
Disembarking from the ferry, loaded with suitcases and photographic equipment, we immediately asked ourselves how we could have moved between those winding and uphill roads and, with discomfort, we had looked at one of the many motorbikes to rent near the port. So Santino's car was an unexpected gift, the first of the many kindnesses our friend will afford us, always available to satisfy the most bizarre requests.
This land, created by volcanic activity, dominated by the wind, enchants us with its spontaneous vegetation, the forests of ferns, pines, chestnut trees and caper bushes, one of its most precious resources, along with Malvasia, a wine with an intense aroma and with a sweet taste. Thus called by the Romans who collected salt in the small lake of Lingua, originally named Didyme by the Greeks, or the island of the twin mountains, which, seen from the sea, resemble a woman's breast.
“The inhabitants of Salina have always distinguished themselves among the Aeolian peoples for their entrepreneurship, so much so that they have been able to obtain complete administrative independence since 1867,” Santino said with a hint of pride. “And not only that. At the beginning of the 20th century, the municipality of Salina was divided into three other small towns that are still completely autonomous today: Santa Maria Salina, Malfa and Leni”.
Through these three villages, it is possible to retrace the history of the place: Santa Marina is the main center, to which the salt trade and that of agricultural products belonged. Lingua developed around the salt lake overlooking the sea. Malfa boasts the most fertile land, where Malvasia crops thrive. On the opposite side of the island, we discover Leni, another center of agricultural activity whose name comes from the Greek Lenòi, meaning 'tub' for crushing grapes. As a confirmation of the island's seafaring soul, Leni also has its hamlet on the seashore, Rinella, with an enchanting little port and its rugged coastline, full of caves.
“If you want to see the most beautiful sunsets of the Aeolian Islands, you must come with me to Pollara”, recommends Santino Rossella, a policeman from Santa Marina Salina and a tour guide “only for friends”. The tiny village with its white houses extends on a plateau facing the sea, rocks overhanging the crystalline water. We are facing the remains of the largest crater of the Aeolian, a natural, gigantic amphitheater that, seen from the sea, is truly spectacular. Shy and reserved, little inclined to rowdy tourism, Salina is a cozy nest where you can rest, which seduces you little by little.
And so, as the days went by, we became captivated by the beauties of nature and by the Aeolian architecture, by its simplicity and unpretentious rigor. We let ourselves be enchanted by the words of Lino Alcara, a refined antiquarian with a passion for gardening, or Donna Ida, who as a young woman emigrated to Australia, and whose personal relationship with God was marked by morning and evening masses.
Every evening, we savored the dishes prepared by mamma Concetta at the A Cannata restaurant, which are based on traditions, and are cooked as they once were. We immersed ourselves in a reality made up of small gestures, encounters and chatter, magic and genuineness.
A Cannata. Lingua.
+39 090 9843161, accannata.it
'Nni Lausta. Via Risorgimento 188, Santa Marina di Salina.
Casa Lo Schiavo Fornelli e Putia. Via Risorgimento 32, Santa Marina Salina.
Da Alfredo (the oldest place in Salina). Lungomare Lingua.
La Pinnata del Monsu'. Via Sorgente 1, Malfa.
Hotel Signum. Via Scalo 15, Malfa.
+39 0909844222, hotelsignum.it
Hotel Capofaro. Via Faro 3, Salina.
+39 090 9844330, capofaro.it
Hotel Santa Isabel. Via Scalo 12, Malfa.
+39 090 9844018
Le Sette Vele (B&B)
+39 090 9843191, lesettevele.it
Made in Salina (best craftsmanship of the Aeolian Islands). Porto Marina Salina.
Amanei (design and books). Via Risorgimento 71, Santa Marina di Salina.
+39 0909843547, amanei.com
Indigo (clothes and objects). Via Risorgimento 124, Santa Marina Salina.
+39 090 9843354
Words by Cristina Nava.